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Drinking motives supporting binge drinking of Inuit adolescents

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Binge drinking has been identified as a public health concern among several Indigenous communities in Canada. Drinking motives have been shown to significantly influence drinking patterns among youth, but no research has been conducted among Inuit populations. This article assesses whether specific drinking motives are related to the number of binge drinking episodes among Inuit adolescents from Nunavik.


The data are drawn from the Nunavik Child Development Study, a longitudinal study conducted in the Canadian Arctic. Questions on alcohol use, binge drinking and drinking motives were asked to 174 adolescents (mean age of 18.5 years). Analyses of variance were used to test the relation between drinking motives and number of binge drinking episodes over the last year.


Most Inuit participants mentioned drinking for enhancement reasons. A higher number of binge drinking episodes were reported among both adolescent males and adolescent females who frequently endorse enhancement motives, while social and coping motives have been exclusively related to binge drinking episodes among males.


Findings highlight that motivational aspects supporting binge drinking among Inuit adolescents vary across sex and slightly contrast with studies conducted in non-Indigenous populations. Culturally relevant preventive interventions that target motivational aspects and take into account sex differences are needed.



La consommation excessive d’alcool a été identifiée comme un problème de santé publique par plusieurs communautés autochtones du Canada. Il a été démontré que les motifs pour lesquels les jeunes boivent de l’alcool influencent de manière significative leurs habitudes de consommation, mais aucune recherche n’a été menée auprès des populations inuites. Cet article évalue si des motifs spécifiques de consommation sont liés au nombre d’épisodes de consommation excessive d’alcool chez les adolescents inuits du Nunavik.


Les données sont tirées de la Nunavik Child Development Study, une étude longitudinale menée dans l’Arctique canadien. Des questions sur la consommation d’alcool, la consommation excessive et les motifs de consommation ont été posées à 174 adolescents (âge moyen de 18,5 ans). Des analyses de variance ont été utilisées pour examiner la relation entre les motifs de consommation décrits et le nombre d’épisodes de consommation excessive d’alcool au cours de la dernière année.


La plupart des participants inuits ont décrit une consommation d’alcool pour des motifs de renforcement. Un nombre plus élevé d’épisodes de consommation excessive d’alcool ont été observés chez les adolescents et adolescentes qui souscrivent fréquemment à des motifs de renforcement, alors que les motivations sociales et d’adaptation ont été exclusivement liées aux épisodes de consommation excessive d’alcool chez les garçons.


Ces résultats soulignent que les aspects motivationnels qui favorisent la consommation excessive d’alcool chez les jeunes inuits varient d’un sexe à l’autre, et contraste légèrement avec les études menées auprès de populations non autochtones. Des interventions préventives culturellement pertinentes qui ciblent les aspects motivationnels de la consommation d’alcool par les jeunes et qui tiennent compte des différences entre adolescents et adolescentes sont nécessaires.

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We are grateful to our partners and collaborators: the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, the Kativik Regional Government, the Municipal councils of Kuujjuaq, Puvirnituq and Inukjuak, and the Inuulitsivik and Tulattavik Health Centres. Special thanks to the Nunavik Nutrition and Health Committee for their constructive comments, and to each participant for their time and commitment.


This study was supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Northern Contaminants Program from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. MF obtained a postdoctoral fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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Correspondence to Richard E. Belanger.

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Decaluwe, B., Fortin, M., Moisan, C. et al. Drinking motives supporting binge drinking of Inuit adolescents. Can J Public Health 110, 414–421 (2019).

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